Into uncharted waters

It seems like business as usual. I was trained to do this. I’ve done this a lot of times. Yet, why does it feel like I’m entering uncharted waters?

The preparatory Japanese language classes have ended and here I am, at my research desk, where I’ll spend the next three years of my life. Staring at a wall, occasionally glancing left to a pile of scattered papers and open books, and then back to typing a few words… only to delete them later. Rinse, lather, and repeat for several hours. A short break. Then again.

Basically, business as usual.

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Getting one foot through the door is the hardest part

About five rejections, hundreds of dollars, and months of waiting…

I started applying for PhD positions three years after I had graduated my masters degree. My masters was not particularly spectacular; I decided on it purely out of my own interest. I did my undergraduate program in international relations with a concentration in international security, so I felt it was natural to progress to strategic studies.

It was clear that I wouldn’t progress further without a PhD. I have had to let so many opportunities pass simply because they required a PhD.

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Over Coffee #15: Regional security developments and Indonesia’s G20 updates

In this recap, I cover recent developments of regional security in the Indo-Pacific, which includes the Solomon Islands and China bilateral security cooperation agreement and the possible expansion of the Trilateral Cooperative Agreement (TCA) between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Then, it’s on to Indonesia’s ongoing quest to build its new capital city and its precarious position as the president of the G20.

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Over Coffee #14: Indonesia and South Korea politics updates

In this recap, I cover some democratic shenanigans in Indonesia as the domestic political elites dangerously entertain a motion to allow the incumbent head of state to extend their term in office. Then, I move over to South Korea, where a new president has been elected. Finally, some updates on the effects of Western sanctions on the Russian economy.

But first, coffee. This week’s recommendation is again from 20mL Coffee’s (at this point, they should sponsor me) Corta blend, which is their proprietary blend of East Nusa Tenggara, Bali, and West Sumatran Arabica beans. I’ve brewed these beans using a V60 and a mokapot, with the mokapot brew served with frothed milk. The V60 brew had a subdued acidic flavor with a rather distinct hint of spices (can’t really tell which spices though, but it does remind me of cloves). The mokapot-brewed white coffee, however, had strong hints of chocolate with low acidity.

Now, on to the recap.

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Over Coffee #13: Ukraine and Southeast Asia updates

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine continues, but it seems the Russians have been stalled. As sanctions from the West continue to impact Russia, Japan emerges as an unlikely partner, pledging to accept Ukrainian refugees and providing millions in humanitarian aid. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia debates to extend the term of office of the incumbent head of state, Joko Widodo. Cambodia also expects to conduct a visit to Myanmar.

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Over Coffee #12: Russia invades Ukraine

With the flood of information coming out of a near-infinite number of sources, it would be impossible for me to provide decent coverage. So, I shall keep it brief, and stick to mostly the reputable news sites (because there’s an absurd amount of bad information out there) and cover only major developments.

On the eve of the attack (21 February 2022), Russia recognised the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions — also known as Donbas — on Monday. The recognition of the two “People’s Republics” allowed Moscow to mobilise Russian troops into the region, setting up the invasion.

On 24 February 2022, Putin addresses the Russian people, announcing a “special military operation” against Ukraine. In the address, Putin justified the military operations as a response to the “expansion of NATO to the east” and other forms of “illegitimate use of military force” and “containment” by the United States. Putin invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter as the basis for its military operation, which would be aimed to “protect people who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the regime in Kiev… and pursue the demilitarization and the denazification of Ukraine…”

Early Friday morning, Russia begins its three-front assault on Ukraine.

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Over Coffee #11: Domestic reactions of Indonesia’s shopping spree

This week I want to focus on domestic reactions of Indonesia’s fighter jet shopping spree. This will then be followed by some interesting updates this week presented in a rapid-fire style. But don’t worry, next week, the usual weekly update will resume.

Speaking of coffee, I’ve finally found the time to visit one of my top 10 cafes in Jakarta, Blacklisted. Though it’s a bit on the pricey side — and I begrudgingly had to settle for the place since I found out Angel-in-us at Lotte was permanently shuttered — their flat whites are top-notch and they have a decent selection of food. I paired it with a chocolate-orange cake (it’s a cheat day!) and had a nice morning snack. What keeps me going back to the place, despite it’s rather premium price tag, is that it isn’t too crowded, and there’s this nook with a chair that I provides maximum comfort for reading and journaling.

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Over Coffee #10: Indonesia and France ties, and Indo-Pacific updates

This week’s recap covers new developments in Indonesia’s “Papua strategy”, which has been predominantly militaristic in nature, and some good news on the development of Indonesia and France defence ties. There are also some updates on the Indo-Pacific.

I’m not actually trying any new brands of coffee this week. So far, I’ve been enjoying last week’s batch of wine-processed Gayo beans. Turns out I just needed to adjust the grind size and amount of water. Right now, I’m using a 16:1 ratio of water to coffee. While some might decry this as a travesty since it dilutes the coffee a bit too much, I find this is to be a tolerable ratio simply because the Gayo is just a tad too strong for my taste.

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